By: E&P Staff and The Associated Press
The online edition of The New York Times, one of the most viewed U.S. Web sites, was off-line for three to four hours Wednesday night.
The site, http://www.nytimes.com, was restored shortly before 11 p.m. EDT after being inaccessible for nearly four hours.
Catherine Mathis, a Times spokeswoman, told E&P on Thursday that an “internal technical issue” prompted the Web shutdown, which she said occurred between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. But she offered no other specifics about the cause, other than to say it involved no outside sabotage or virus.
“Our reporters and editors could access it and use it to update it,” she said. “All outside access to the site was cut off.” Mathis did not have information on how many readers contacted the paper to complain or ask about the shutdown.
On its return, the site held no obvious note to readers about its absence., but it was updated with new stories and columns from the Thursday edition.
The Web site was ranked ninth among the 50 most visited sites last month, according to figures released Monday by comScore Media Metrix, which tracks Internet traffic. It received 36.3 million unique visitors, just behind the myspace.com online community, part of News Corp., and ahead of Verizon Communications Inc. and The Weather Channel sites, comScore said.
In September, the Times began charging $49.95 annually for those who don’t subscribe to the newspaper’s print edition to access marquee columnists for its Op-Ed page and other columnists for the paper’s business, metro and sports sections.
That service, TimesSelect, includes access to the paper’s archives, early looks at some sections and online tools for tracking and storing articles from the Times Web site. The Times maintained a separate premium service for its crossword puzzles.